Other than the odd blueberry muffin, I rarely ate and never thought much of muffins until the oat bran craze of the 1970s and ’80s, when it was widely publicized that oats could help reduce heart-threatening cholesterol buildup.
Then came the Beyond Bluberry era, when muffins became more cupcake than bread. There followed the era of bulging, softball-sized super-muffins.
The rich-lean continuum yo-yo’d back with a muffin cousin, oat cakes, becoming standard coffee house fare after they were adopted by the uber-bar, Starbucks.
Then muffin tops came along — domed saucer-size muffins that give you all the advantages of the crusty, often sugar- or glaze-coated tops without bottom wastage (bakers realized many people just graze on the top and throw the rest away, or hand it to the office disposal — the guy who eats everything).
All this is on my mind because I may soon be working with a muffin company (can’t tell which one yet). So New Year’s morning, after I realized that (DUH!) Liliha Bakery wasn’t open, I decided to make muffins. Cornmeal muffins. I am all about corn in any form. Just check my personal recipe files.
Starting with a recipe on a bag of Bob’s Red Mill medium-grind cornmeal, I came up with this, a sweetish, satisfying muffin that needs no embellishments:
Fruited cornmeal-almond muffins
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit, finely chopped (I used apricots and cranberries) or fruit and nuts
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease muffin pan or line with paper liners (unless you’re using silicone, in which case no need to prep).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, including dried fruit.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt, almond extract and vegetable oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry, combine using wooden spoon. Batter will be lumpy. If too dry, add a little more yogurt or a few drops water or apple juice. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full.
Bake 25 minutes for full-size muffins (makes about 6-8) or 18-20 minutes for mini-muffins (makes about 18-20 mini-muffins).
As my strong preference is for savory muffins, I’m going to try a not-so-sweet version, perhaps with a good, sharp grated cheese in it, soon.
Happy New Year, Wanda! I’d like to see a healthy, savory version.
Did you grind the almonds yourself? I don’t have a food processor so can I grind almonds in a blender? Or can I substitute or eliminate the ground almonds from the recipe?
Would you happen to have an oatcake recipe you can share with your readers?
Yes, you can grind in blender. Yes, you can eliminate ground almonds and use more flour. Yes, I’ve got an oatcake. I’ll find it and blog on it…my next post (to be up in a few minutes) is a sort of oatcake.